Confirming an earlier report in our publication, the organizers of the Expo Riva Schuh fair formally announced at its latest edition last month that they are planning to launch a new shoe show in Delhi, tentatively scheduled for July 18-20. At least initially, Expo Riva Schuh India will concentrate on finished shoes and will be exclusively aimed at the rapidly developing Indian market.

The new project is a joint venture between the organizers of the biggest and most successful international show for the mass market, Riva del Garda Fierecongressi, and Images Group, a dynamic Indian company that already hosts two important shows for the domestic market ? the Indian Fashion Forum and the Indian Retail Forum ? and publishes several fashion and retail-oriented B2C and B2B magazines including Indian Shoes and Accessories. Images has a strong database of shoe wholesalers and retailers, and it has helped companies such as Tommy Hilfiger to establish themselves on the Indian market.

The promoters of this project would like to start off with a nucleus of around 150 exhibitors ? about 100 from India. Bata, which is one of the major shoe producers and retailers in India, has already agreed to participate along with several other firms. There will also be 20-25 companies attending a workshop on the development of the Indian footwear retail market, with information and education seminars about design, merchandising and the changing profile of the Indian consumer. A fashion show for the general public and the press is also on the agenda.

Officials of Expo Riva Schuh stressed that they would like to secure a partnership with the Indian Council of Leather Exports, which sponsors the India International Leather Fair (IILF) in Chennai and Delhi. An executive of the CLE said he welcomed such a partnership, adding that the conditions are still subject to negotiations.

The new venture by Expo Riva Schuh and Images comes at an excellent time as many large and small Indian shoe manufacturers that have been working only for foreign clients in the last few years have decided to reserve a portion of the production of new lines under their own brands for the national market (more on this in a forthcoming issue of Shoe Intelligence).

Some of the 100-odd Indian exhibitors at Expo Riva Schuh have decided to make such a move, while expressing some doubts about the timing of the new show. Suggestions were made that it should instead be held in October, at the same time as the IILF show in Delhi, or concurrently with the Indian Fashion Forum in Mumbai in January.

Several international footwear brands have also recently decided to enter the Indian market in one form or another including Rieker, the only major shoe company that had a stand at the Chennai fair (more on this later). Other new entrants of different kinds are Timberland, Miss Sixty and Asics (more on this in Sporting Goods Intelligence Europe).

The organizers of the new show provided figures showing that 95 percent of India's shoe output of 2.6 billion pairs is already sold on the national market, where half of the retail sector is now more or less organized, featuring chains such as Bata, Pantaloon, Reliance Footprint, Liberty and Woodland. Retail sales of footwear are estimated to have been growing at an annual rate of 12 percent to reach a turnover of $6 billion, with the average price going up.

Demand for the new shoe show became apparent through a survey of about 1,000 shoe industry officials in India, including more than 200 of the 5,000-plus wholesalers who continue to act as intermediaries with the retailers. Some reportedly take margins of between 37 and 42 percent and work with the retailers on a consignment basis.